It's a pity they don't mention anything about the influence of the shape on the flow field. That's a nice analytical problem. Sometimes in AE one has to work out the shape of the cone that has produced a particular flow field (inverse design).
Most of the time in our area, we are more concerned with simply not creating any disturbances in the inlet flow rather than creating a particular flow field. I can't say what method our aero guys use to determine our nose cone profiles.
In my opinion the inverse design is nicer, isn't it? It's like the pure state of the predictive force of the theory. But I know sometimes it is cheaper and more suitable for companies the test-and see what happens afterwards- method.
Claus...I totally agree. Most times, for us, it ends up being a scaled version of a design that has been around for quite sometime. Then it's a cross your fingers and hope it still works kind of moment. We have had to do new shapes, but not very often.